Benares Tribeca

I was invited to dine at Benares in Tribeca last week, a restaurant helmed by all star duo Chef Peter Beck of the Tamarind empire and restaurateur Inder Singh, formerly of Devi and Baluchi's.  The restaurants focuses on the classic Indian cuisine of Utter Pradesh, the western city where Benares is located.  Walking into the restaurant I was delightfully surprised by the beauty and size of the space.  Big cushy booths lined the wall with seating for at least six people, large round tables dotted the dining area and there was even a sleek little bar up front for those who just wanted to have a few cocktails.

The menu boasts an eclectic mix of vegan, meat and seafood dishes with each meal starting with a whimsical bowl of rice crackers taking on a rainbow flair.

Classic chickpea, potato and wheat crisp Papri Chaat got an exciting boost of flavor from the addition of coriander and pomegranate chutney.

While the plump Tandoori Shrimp left a long spicy tingle on the tongue of chili, ginger and black pepper.

One of my favorite dishes of the night was the Smoked Chicken Tikka; boneless breasts marinated in smoked curry yogurt and Indian spices that imparted a deep delicious clove flavor. It was served alongside a creamy mint dressing that balanced the heat and created a bright, fresh finish.

Of course no trip to an Indian restaurant is complete without the classic Tikka Masala; this version a bit less spicy than most with a thick rich plum tomato sauce.

The charbroiled Grilled Fish with lemon butter sauce was exceptional; flaky and tender with a sweet finish reminiscent of a Black Cod Miso.

The Saag Paneer was also exceptional.  This is a dish I never usually enjoy but the Benares interpretation was fresh and creamy with robust flavors of ginger and cumin perfect for spooning into the fluffy Garlic Naan.

I was almost too full for Chef Beck's signature Makkai Ka Sowtea but after trying a tiny bite my stomach somehow found room to polish off this tender tumeric marinated lamb.

To finish a dense Chocolate Cake stuffed with melted fudge and two scoops of rose petal ice cream.

This was an incredible dinner.  I loved how Benares took each Indian classic and made it their own with twists on spices and cooking techniques. In addition to the fantastic food Benares is one of the few Indian restaurants with a well appointed wine list and inventive cocktails like the Smoked Maple Sour with Knob Creek Bourbon and the Benares Martini with grapefruit, Lillet and orange peels.  This is a great place to bring a group of friends, sip on some wonderful drinks and get excited about Indian cuisine all over again.

45 Murray Street
New York, NY 10007